American military personnel are in Ukraine to help track and maintain the billions of dollars of military aid the United States has provided to Ukrainian forces, according to U.S. officials.
The Biden administration has provided more than $18 billion of military equipment to Ukraine since Russia invaded in late February after U.S. military personnel had left the country. Administration officials have repeatedly said they will continue to provide assistance to Ukraine as the war goes on.
The U.S. recently resumed “on-site inspections to assess weapon stocks in country whenever and wherever the security conditions allow,” a senior U.S. defense official told reporters on Monday. Pentagon spokesman Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder could not say when the inspections resumed during Tuesday’s briefing.
The return of the U.S. defense attache, led by Brig. Gen. Garrick Harmon, to Ukraine and the Office of Defense Cooperation personnel have allowed these inspections to restart, the official explained, adding that the Defense Department is “conducting hands-on training with the Ukrainian Armed Forces on U.S. best practices so they can provide better data, for example, from the sites close to the front lines that U.S. personnel cannot visit.”
“There have been several of these inspections,” the official noted.
There are several areas that the Defense Department attempts to monitor, according to the official: keeping comprehensive records of U.S. weapons distributions prior to transferring them to Ukrainian hands where they then log and track the security assistance (they also provide expenditure and damage reports), training them on how to provide better data, and then the U.S. inspections.
Ryder insisted that the department has “no indication that there has been any type of illicit spread.”
Last week, the State Department announced a new plan to ensure that weapons provided to Ukraine don’t fall into malign actors. While the Ukrainian government “has committed to appropriately safeguard and account for transferred U.S.-origin defense equipment,” keeping these weapons out of the hands of bad actors “is essential to post-conflict recovery and regional security.”